JACKMAN’S LAST STAND
Logan. Wolverine. Hugh Jackman. The X-Men have had a bumpy road, navigating through the tales of various mutant characters with some powerhouse hitters to mediocre endeavors. However, the one constant in all the movies is the character of Logan (aka Wolverine) and the actor (Hugh Jackman) who plays him. Ever since the first X-Men movie, Jackman has always played the character, a perfect for such fearless and ferocious comic book mutant. Whether he’s playing a central role in the movie (X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men: Days of Future Past), starring in his own spinoff film (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine) or making a cameo appearance (X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse), Jackman has demonstrated his dedication to moviegoers and fans of the “X-Men” cinematic universe, portraying the adamantium-clawed mutant and maintain the classic Wolverine trademark persona presence (i.e. gruff, meaty, a bit feral / animalistic, and always chewing on a cigar). However, just like the passage of time, Jackman can’t keep on playing the character forever, even if he’s a fan-favorite to many. Now, in a sort of swansong moment, Hugh Jackman prepares for his final role as the titular mutant as 20th Century Fox and director James Mangold present the film Logan. Does this finale piece send Jackman’s Logan off masterfully or has the inherit hype and heavy fan base scrutiny of the “Old Man Logan” storyline diminished the movie altogether?
In the year 2029, the world is in different place than what it used to be as are the mutant population that once thrived. Logan (Hugh Jackman) has tried to drown his Wolverine persona in alcohol, making money as a limo driver to help for a future with fellow mentor mutant Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who’s suffering seizures down in their shared Mexican hideaway, with help provided by fellow mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant). However, Logan, once a strong and fearless mutant, realizes that old age is catching up to him, slowly losing his healing powers and constantly to block old memories of his years of being an X-Men. Walking into Logan’s life is Laura (Dafne Keen), a mysterious young girl who recently escaped from the same people who subjected Wolverine to his adamantium testing and bestowed with similar powers as the aging Logan, who is need of an escort to a mythical safe haven for mutants in Canada. Preparing for a long road trip to this place, Logan, Laura, and Charles attempt to make their way across America, evading pursuit from enforcer Donald Pierce (Boyd Hollbrook), who works for Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), a mad scientist attempting to develop his own population of warrior mutants, losing control of his stable of exceptional children. Now, with danger all around, Logan must muster to find his old strength once again to protect Laura and Charles on their perilous journey.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
While many will agree or disagree on the overall likeability of the X-Men movies (i.e. which was good or bad), the one thing that many will agree on is that actor Hugh Jackman was awesome as Logan / Wolverine. For some of the movies, he was actually the main focus as we (the viewers) follow his journey throughout this cinematic world of humans and mutants. As a whole, I enjoyed the X-Men movies, with X2: X-Men United and X-Men: Days of Future Past being my favorite of the bunch. However, I’ve never been a fan particularly of the Wolverine solo movies. Of course, Jackman in those movies was great, continuing to refine the character of Logan / Wolverine in bringing the best out of man as well pleasing fans. However, those two movies were pretty mediocre and are basically my least two favorite X-Men movies. X-Men Origins: Wolverine had an interesting story, especially exploring the iconic moment when Logan gets the adamantium put inside him), but was just a bland with overstuff characters and weak representation of the character Deadpool (I think we can all agree on that). As for The Wolverine, it depicted the sheer ferocity of iconic mutant with some great action scenes. Unfortunately, the most of the movie was boring and really lack an assemblage of mutant-kind in the film. This, of course, brings me to Logan, the third solo Wolverine movie for Jackman as well as being his final appearance as the character. Like everyone, I was both excited / sad to here of the announcement of Logan as it signifies the end of Jackman’s on-screen presences, while the trailers for the film looked promising in filling my expectations to go see it. Now…it’s the moment of truth. What did I think of the movie? Well, I loved it and all the early press reviews are definitely worth the hype. In short, Logan is perfect send-off, befitting the famous X-men character.
Logan is directed by James Mangold, who previously directed The Wolverine as well as the films Knight & Day, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma, and Walk the Line. While Logan draws its inspiration of the famous Marvel comic book titles as “Old Man Logan”, Mangold, who wrote the wrote the film’s script along with Scott Frank and Michael Green, presents the film as a character piece, finding the mutant Wolverine has worn-down mutant who is struggling with finding purpose and somewhat haunted by past. While I personally wasn’t a fan of The Wolverine (as I stated above), I really do think that Mangold was perfect in directing Logan, crafting a story that mirrors that overall gravitas of the lead character as well as perfect sendoff for the actor who plays him. Likewise, a bit similar to Mangold’s The Wolverine, Logan’s setting is mostly grounded. The film’s overall style is based more in reality, which is different in comparison to most X-Men movies, and the tone is more mature. This, of course, makes Logan feel less comic-book-ish, which (again) makes the film standout even mores, especially during this current age of superhero features that roll out every year. In addition, the movie really doesn’t go “big” as it doesn’t need to be. Thus, don’t expect Logan to be like X-Men: Apocalypse (i.e. heavy CG visual scenes with a god-like antagonist, and hefty cast of characters). On the other hand, the film has enough comic book substance to make it relatable to the X-Men universe (there some nods, references, and Easter Eggs to be found in the film) to keep up familiarity to fans / moviegoers.
Although Logan is primarily a character-driven feature film (rather than story / plot-driven like previous X-Men movies), there’s still plenty of action to dowel out and believe me…you won’t be disappointed in its presentation. Yes, Logan delivers all the R-rated violence fans and moviegoers were hoping, with Mangold unleashing Jackman’s Wolverine in a berserker rage. While the character of Wolverine has always been fierce fighter in past X-Men movies, Logan, now no longer restricted by a PG-13 rating, sees the titular mutant goes “balls-to-the-wall” crazy with plenty of blood and violence thrills, pleasing diehard comic books fans of the character as well as action-oriented moviegoers. Aiding to bring these ferocious action scenes to life (along with Mangold), is X-Men: First Class’s director of photography John Mathieson, who delivers some pretty nifty close-quarter Wolverine combat sequences that are definitely hard-hitting and edgier than Mangold’s previous entry in The Wolverine. And I, for one, love it. In addition, given the film overall tone and style, the intense R-rated action scenes feel genuine and are not shoehorned in or for the sake of “shock and awe” effect.
Naturally, as many know, Logan is rated R for its graphic violence and I do advise younger X-Men fans out there or sensitive / squeamish moviegoers not to see this movie as a cautionary warning. Of course, it didn’t bother me as much (I really enjoyed all the action violence in the film), but, while The Wolverine was a soft R-rated feature, the violence portrayed in Logan is definitely a hard-R-rated film. Not to dismay fans and viewers on this, but I’m just throwing it out there (i.e. this is not PG-13 violence).
Despite the palpable importance of this X-Men spinoff installment (the finality of It all for Jackman’s Logan) and the R-rated violence that fans have been waiting for, I had a few negative nitpicks about Logan. These nitpicks are nothing major and didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment of the film, but I just want to point them out. For starters, while I did mention that Logan is different from the other X-Men movies (more grounded and less comic book-ish), the movie has less of spectacle than of other X-Men installments. That’s not to say that its entertaining, but (for me personally) I’ve always enjoyed the X-Men movies when it’s about a larger ensemble group, exceptionally since X-Men mythos is (as a whole) about a minority group rather than a single superhero. Next, much like Mangold’s The Wolverine, the second act in Logan feels a bit sluggish. Yes, there’s a couple of moments action, but certain scenes during this timeframe feel slow, creating some pacing problems during the act and makes feel longer than to be expected, especially since Logan’s runtime is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Also, there are couple of moments in the movie that give vague explanations as Mangold and his writers sort of “gloss” over them (i.e. certain events that happen in the past). Lastly, there is of the one character that felt was undeveloped, but I’ll mention that one below.
Of course, the main attraction in Logan is the character of Logan / Wolverine as actor Hugh Jackman performs in the role one last time. Naturally, Jackman delivers yet again and gives it all into this final portrayal of the fierce mutant. With the constant sequels and reboots in the X-Men movies (different actors playing the same characters), Wolverine has always been played by Jackman, so he knows Logan inside and out and delivers one of the best character layered performance of this particular X-Men. He definitely gets to show off his acting talents, displaying all the physical / emotional wear and tear on the once proud X-Men as well as demonstrating the sheer force and deadly nature of what the character of Logan should be in the movies. In short, much like Robert Downey is perfect as Tony Stark / Iron Man or Johnny Depp as great as Jack Sparrow, Hugh Jackman is the perfect actor to portrayal the Logan / Wolverine. Hands down, end of story as his performance in Logan is indeed his best and most entertaining role in the X-Men movies he’s been in. Wouldn’t it be something if he got a Oscar-nomination for this role (that would be super cool).
Behind Jackman as the film’s lead role, Logan has two terrific performances from cast members Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen as follow mutants Charles Xavier and Laura / X-23. Stewart, who has played Xavier many times before in previous X-Men movies, feels every comfortable in returning to his character in Logan (now aged and frail as ever), delivering a powerful performance that probably the most vulnerable and most humorous iteration of his portrayal of the X-Men’s famous mentor figure. As for Dafne Keen, a mostly undiscovered young actress, gives a terrific performance as Laura, a young mutant who is just as deadly as she is cute as a button. Her scenes with Stewart and Jackman are fantastic as she’s definitely memorable in the film, a role that’s mostly-silent performance that projects something more than words can convey (in both action and in personality).
While Jackman, Stewart, and Keen are the driving force and the principal stars of Logan, the film’s supporting cast is sort of a mixed bag. Well, let me start with Boyd Holbrook, who plays the Donald Pierce, the somewhat leader of the Reavers who pursue Logan and company for most of the movie. Holbrook, known for his roles in Gone Girl, Milk, and the TV show Narcos, does a good job as the lead “henchmen” role with enough arrogance and bravado to Pierce to make him standout than his classic archetype role. British actor Stephen Merchant plays the role of the mutant Caliban, an albino mutant who plays the role of Xavier’s caretaker (alongside Logan), a role that was played in X-Men: Apocalypse by actor Tómas Lemarquis. While not quite as essential to the main narrative of Logan, Xavier, and Lara, Merchant does bring his acting talents and charm to the role of Caliban to make the character memorable in the film. Lastly, is Richard E. Grant, who plays the film’s somewhat “main” villain Dr. Zander Rice. Unfortunately, while Rice, known for his role as Dr. Simeon from Doctor Who, the whole character arc / presence of Dr. Rice is underdeveloped (a sort cliché mad scientist of sorts) and feels like a footnote in the grand scheme of Logan. In truth, Holbrook’s Pierce plays a better antagonist than Grant’s Rice.
Hugh Jackman makes his last stand as the infamous X-Men in the movie Logan. Director James Mangold newest film delivers a spectacular R-rated superhero film that’s more grounded in reality than most, but still retains its comic book fundamentals as well as the X-Men cinematic universe. While there are a few minor nitpicks, the film succeeds at being a sobering sendoff to the character Wolverine, thanks to Jackman’s performance as well as supporting players (i.e. Stewart and Keen). Personally, I loved the movie. It was beautifully violent (befitting the title character), a different side (in style and tone) to the X-Men cinematic world, and told a perfect final chapter for Jackman to play. It was definitely the best of the Wolverine movies, worth the hype, and met my expectations. For that reason, I would say that Logan gets my highly-recommended stamp approval. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be definitely be entertained. For longtime fans (or even moviegoers), Logan is an exciting and somber feature film that tells the final installment of ferocious X-Men character. Whatever happens in future X-Men movies is still unclear (whether they recast someone else in the role or omit the character completely), one thing is profoundly clear…. Hugh Jackman will always be the definitive movie version of Logan / Wolverine…and he’ll be missed.
4.4 Out of 5 (Highly Recommended)
Released On: March 3rd, 2017
Reviewed On: March 5th, 2017
Logan is 135 minutes long and is rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity